Real-world mythology and folklore are often the inspiration for the most terrifying monsters in horror films. As proof, here are the top 10 best.
Legends and folklore from mythology and folklore were used to teach young people about the dangers of making bad choices. However, the legend warned them that if they didn’t, they’d meet a monstrous creature that would make them wish they had. Freddy Krueger and Pinhead, two of the most well-known monsters in the horror film genre, have developed over the decades since they were first portrayed in films.
Despite the advancements in visual effects, filmmakers and screenwriters may still rely on ancient phobias to keep people up all night with their films.
As Nosferatu and Frankenstein’s Monster demonstrated in the 1920s and 1930s, storytelling techniques may evolve, but the nature of evil remains constant, ensuring that folklore and mythology will always be a rich source of thrills and chills. Here are the top 10 mythical monsters that have appeared in horror films.
1. DULLAHAN (THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN)
American readers may associate the Headless Horseman with Washington Irving’s short novel “The Mythology of Sleepy Hollow,” although the legend actually originates in Ireland. A rider on a black horse, the Headless Horseman appears in Tim Burton’s gothic horror film Sleepy Hollow as a servant of the demon who has stolen his head.
Legend has it that when the Dullahan stops riding and shouts out the name of a victim, they die where they are, and it is said that this is because the Dullahan is on a mission to take their soul. We’re surprised Burton didn’t mention the fact that he has skin the color of moldy cheese, smells like rotting corpses, and whips himself with his spinal chord.
2. HOMUNCULI (TOOTH FAIRIES)
In spite of their diminutive stature, the homunculi have a significant advantage against you because they’re far more numerous than you are. A young Sally, forced to live with her father and his new girlfriend in a vast stuffy house because her mother pushed her away, has to deal with them in the book Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.
Sally accidently discovers the wicked creatures’ lair in the manor’s subterranean lair while touring the 19th century manor. Sally is enticed to her death by the promise of friendship, but in reality, she is being ripped apart. Initially, they ate children’s teeth, but they soon realized that they needed something a little more solid. They’re the “tooth fairies” you’re hoping you’ll never run into.
3. THE PALE MAN (CYCLOPS)
Director Guillermo Del Toro is not only one of the most forward-thinking filmmakers of his generation, but also a gifted monster designer.
The Pale Man, one of his most recognizable monsters, appears in Pan’s Labyrinth, one of his most magical creations.
Stigmata, Goya paintings, and Cyclops are all referenced in The Pale Man. Often represented as men or giants, the fearsome Cyclops of Greek mythology had a single enormous eye in the center of their forehead. If a hero (or in Pan’s Labyrinth, a woman) has to overcome a significant obstacle, they’re likely to feature prominently.
4. LEPRECHAUN (DEMON/FAIRY OFFSPRING)
Leprechauns are the children of demons and fairies in Irish folklore. They’re naughty creatures who hoard wealth and delight in pulling pranks on hapless adventurers in quest of their hidden loot. They can be benevolent and grant human wishes on rare occasions, but human greed is generally the downfall of humans who ask for too much.
Warwick Davis was a particularly nasty leprechaun who didn’t simply play pranks on people; he murdered them in the entireLeprechaunfilm series until it was relaunched in 2014. His performance was both horrifying and entertaining at the same time.
5. MODER (SLEIPNIR)
To honor a deceased buddy, a group of four friends set out on a trip in the Scandinavian forest. An ancient deity, revered by a small cult, rules the forest and demands submission or death. Known as Moder, the “bastard spawn of Loki,” this abomination is one of the Jötunn (Norse gods).
In the film, Moder gives its devotees extended lives, devoid of pain and disease. It can only be appeased through the performance of ritual sacrifices. It’s when the companions defy The Creature’s orders and leave the forest on their own will that they learn not to annoy mythological creatures. Sleipnir, Odin’s steed, is a genetic ancestor of the Creature.
6. DAGON (DOGON)
With his wife and friends, a young man is forced to seek safety in Imboca, a small fishing community off the coast of Spain. A beautiful mermaid appears to him in a sequence of nightmares, and shortly after, reality and fantasy mingle to create a terrifying world populated by individuals who are half human and half fish.
Dogon, an ancient Mesopotamian fertility god, provided prosperity to the town when it was in dire need of it, an old alcoholic tells the man.
When the gang tries to depart the town before Dagon and his followers can slaughter them, Dagon follows them.
7. FRANKENSTEIN (THE GOLEM)
Frankenstein’s Monster, the monster created by Dr. Victor Frankenstein from many corpses, has appeared in numerous film adaptations. The first, starring Boris Karloff and released in 1931, is still among the most terrifying of its kind.
Golem is the name given to the monster in Hebraic mythology, where it first appeared. An inanimate object is given life by its creator, usually in order to terrorize people who oppose him or her in some manner.
8. SLUAGH (FAERIES)
As the family settles into their lonely house on the edge of a wood, they are devastated by the presence of supernatural guests. That which you’ve been hoping to see in the woods is the actual kind of Faerie, one that has the evil intent of kidnapping children.
There is no such thing as a reason to believe in the faeries if you don’t believe in the horrific eternal monsters that dwell in the realm between life and death. They are just as real. The family needs to examine The Book of Invasions, an authentic Irish tome that lists all kinds of supernatural animals and details on how to expel them.
9. LA LLORONA (THE WEEPING WOMAN)
“The crying woman” is a mythological character who can be found in numerous myths, from Medusa to The Woman in Black. Grief-stricken and angry, she is depicted as a woman who has lost her children and has been rejected by the hereafter.
In The Curse of La Llorona, a mother kills her children after finding out her husband is having an affair. She takes her own life because she is unable to bear the guilt of what she has done. She’s doomed to wreak havoc on the lives of other women and their children as an angry ghost.
10. COUNT ORLOK (COUNT DRACULA/VAMPYR)
Count Orlok in Nosferature is one of the most scary and powerful representations of Count Dracula in cinema. Vampire-like character Max Schreck is played by Max Schreck in the silent film that was produced in 1929. His appearance is more like that of European legend’s blood-sucking creatures than that of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Due to how closely the tale mirrors Stoker’s novel, he is credited with “writing” the film’s script. To obtain a house, Count Orlok hires Thomas Hutter (a character resembling Jonathan Harker), with plans to seduce and then swallow the blood of Hutter’s wife Ellen.